Sunday, 21 July 2019

Oops i did it again

I lost my 'shroom knife. Again. I've lost it several times, once my brother found it few months later (from the forest). Now it has a long and brightly coloured ribon d made just for that purpose - it's usually tied around my wrist and that ribbon is easy to spot even on autunm with yellow and red leaves.
But yes, I lost it again and can't find it. Darn.

But I did find a porchini, in a perfect state.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Miles of strawberries

So far I have managed to freeze about 10kg of strawberries, 2 kg went into jam. Os asked me to make some strawberry jam to taste (he doesn't eat shop bought jam anymore).

Boiling jars and lids.
And strawberries - I use jam sugar with some pectin. It'll keep at least a year, but I think this one will not see next summer...

I was away for three days driving along smallest of small country roads trying to find berry farms, and two days again this week. I have seen ostriches, lambs, the most huge orpington cockerel, bunnies and miles after miles of rows of strawberries (and Ukrainian berry pickers). Blueberries are not in season yet, and raspberries are ripe only in tunnels. lasti week I drove 500 miles, and in the end of day three I thought I wouldn't walk five hundred miles more... This week only 300miles.

And this wasn't the narrowest road I drove...
Next summer I really hope I don't have to do those tours, they are exhausting. (I do this as part of my work, not to get berries)

Kids have been eating handful of our own strawberries almost daily, they say they are far more better than bought ones.

Most of firewood is cut and split and stacked in storage for the winter. There is s small(ish) pile of cut and split wood in the field, it's still wet and have to be stacked somewhere to dry. There is also 8 stacks of dry and split wood which is still 1m long, so it needs to be cut. Kids hate me, because they have been stacking wood for three weeks now...

These 5 piles need to be cut, and we have three more piles like these to be cut as well. 'Suma found a new playground.
Veg path and polytunnel as well as greenhouse survived my being away. D had watered them just fine, not too much and not too little. Of course because we had very cold weather so there was no need to water anything much. There was even frosts at night a bit north from us, luckily we have had +5C or +6C nights. If I had basil, it would have suffered.
Well, now we have Saharan heat wave coming. Talk about u-turn.

I found first flowers in tomatoes -  I know, most people are already eating their tomatoes. I also have nice flowers in my melons, watermelon is a bit behind now. Cucamelon is also flowering.

This is  melon, do I really need to pollinate them by myself?
 We ate first potatoes a week ago, with pickled herring, chanterelles (from pur own forest), fried eggs and roasted vegetables. Kids were not impressed with violet potatoes, to me they were ok. We do have normal white/yellow potatoes, so kids will not be starving this summer. But those potatoes are really dark, deep purple.

Violet Queens and some unidentified white potatoes.
They are spuds even if they look like black beets. They even bleed blue.
Today I'm going to pick some more chanterelles, as well other mushrooms I'll find. Os will eat them happily, and I noticed last weekend all children eating them (fried in butter). Even ys, who has been refusing 'shrooms lately.

I weeded under my black currant bushes, they are not quite ripe yet, but soon. Noighbours white currants are ripe, asn well as reds. I might pick some tomorrow, I have room in freezer. Pity there's no lingon berries coming this year, I saw no flowers in spring and therefore no berries... Kids like them in smoothies.

Is this a hazelnut?

Carrots my ow (I have purple too, but they are tiny), saskatoon (serviceberry) I bought from a berry farm to taste. Ok.

I have two weeks off again, I have a list of tasks in my mind I'd like to complete:
-plant cherries (bought in early June?)
-weed veggie path
-feed kids carrots from cold frames
-start using beets from frames
-harvest Belgian garlic from both frames
-eat potatoes from bags (I still have 13 growing bags of potatoes)
-forage mushrooms
-find some more strawberries to make more jam (to say it was a succes is a bit understatement)
-take sys and ys to adventure park
-move cut and split wood from field to forest (there's pallets waiting them to be stacked)
-have a little day trip with my sister.

I had to come inside, because there's too hot for black dog like 'Suma. Now she's been sleeping an hour so we can go back outside, this time to pick mushrooms I found yesterday while at 'Sumawalk.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

No heatwave no rain

We have had basically very boring weather all spring/summer. No great heatwaves (not Spanish bubble here), neither rain or floods. Some light shovers, only one thunder (can't call it storm) and some warm days.

Weeds love that.

I finally managed to tackle all weeds I wanted to get rid off, I left on purpose one patch in which I have sown calendula, but it never germinated. I'm going to cover it with plastic (empty mulch bags I have abundance of). I did found some swedes, but I think I'm not going to have a meal out of them. My magne touts/sugar snap peas have germinated very sparingly - I can't even blame pidgeons, haven't seen them or any traces of them at all in veg plot. Peas have made a bit better, but I will not dream of a huge harvest. I think I should sow some broad beans on empty spots, it'll look better (but it's too short time to autunm, so I'm not going to have any harvest on bbs either, unless I'm having them as greens). Few chards were still alive, some might even survive 'Suma who wasn't very amused to be at the veg plot day after day. Poor puppy.

Notice the strategic alignment along rows. Her head rests on empty spot at the end of a brassica row.

Potatoes in car tyres are thriving, there's plenty of blossoms. I don't remember last time my potatoes actually flowered!  On the veg plot they are not very pretty, but alive nevertheless.

This is what they usually get.

We (kids) have been eating our own strawberries on several evenings, I picked nine even sized ones a couple days ago, and yesterday I picked maybe twenty? I divided them between kids (didn't divide berries, like I usually do, to each get their fair share) and sys looked at them confused "You mean I can eat ALL of them, as WHOLE?" Poor kids, their childhood is miserable.

This was the very first fistful of strawberries.
(I did bought 5kg box of strawberries to freezer, and let kids eat as much as they wanted to. 2,5kg ended to freezer - but our own strawberries are tastier.)

There is not much to eat at the veg plot or polytunnel, some salad and herbs. Radishes have gone over, but I did read somewhere you can eat the seedpods, too. So I left them to flower and go to seed, I'll have a taste then.
Today I took first garlics off, they are that Dutch variety which is not doing well in our place. It's softneck variety, and two years of growing it has only managed to grow a bigger cloves, not bulbs.

That dark spot is actually just dirt. They're quite strong flavoured, I couldn't use all of those in my hummus.
My Russian variety (hardneck) is doing much better, it's growing scapes now (I really should harvest them), and I did plant last autunm about 80-90  tiny cloves from scapes and they are growing now, too. I think it takes at least two summers for them to get to the point of forming bulbs, but after that all my garlic is basically free (I will have enough cloves to plant every autunm and still eat all garlic I want). Last winter I bought about half adozen garlic bulbs, my own made it until March?

Hb and I met 30 years ago. Boy that makes me feel old! D said the other day she's only third of my age, and yes, she is. I'm feeling ancient.

What else... My brother got bees for the first time this summer, this week they harvested their first batch of honey, 35kg! And they need to harvest honey at least once if not twice this summer. Bet they'll be in sticky stuff up tp their necks in autunm. No, not really, I think there's a line behind their door asking for honey.


It's wonderful, golden, runny, clear. Even os wanted to taste and liked it. He's not fan of honey.

Very tasty with creamy Turkish yoghurt.
 I have also found some 'shrooms. Boletes.

I think this is a bitter bolete (tylopilus felleus)

Didn't pick it up for some reason...
Bitter boletes are not actually poisonous, but...
I have picked maybe the last batch of rhubarb (from neighborough's garden). I wanted to try rhubarb liqueur (equal amounts sugar, fruit and vodka). Maybe it's ready before Christmas? For hampers, perhaps.


And I'll end this with best picture of  'Suma I have managed for a long time.


Monday, 24 June 2019

Nearly there

Even if this summer has been wonderful weatherwise, I'm very late in my gardening. I haven't planted all plant intended to polytunnel or greenhouse, and just yesterday got last gourgettes/zucchinis planted in to the vegplot. My mother will bring me some tomato plants, and I'll give her four potatoes (planted on milk cartons), Violet Queen. I have no space left for them.

Veg plot is hiding under jungle of weeds. I think I have some peas and magne touts, but can't find them yet. Broad beans are doing well, a year ago I tried to precultivate them, and it didn't turn out well. They were leggy and got attacked by blackflies, they suffered much more than the ones I sowed right to the veg plot. So it's direct sow for now on.

In veg plot there is of course potatoes, two varieties (Violet Queen and something I can't remember, but it is not Annabelle, it didn't like my soil at all last summer), brassicas (mostly cabbages, some kale and few others). I sowed swedes, but I think they're gone, as well as chard directly sown to soil. Beets I planted as small plants are doing fine. Cucumbers, on the other hand, are dying. I have no idea why. If cabbages and pumpkins are doing fine, so why not cucumbers (pickling ones)? I have some sweet corn (leftovers from raised bed) and sunflowers. They(sf) too don't want to grow, and I have no idea why. One fennel plant. It suprised me by staying alive!

On friday we had our annual Midsummer party at communal beach. I was hoping we wouldn't organize it, but no such luck. I have been working there about 17 times in last 20 years, and full decade in a row now! I haven't spent Midsummer with my kids at all, ever. I have been pouring coffee, cashing people, picking litter, taking care of roulette for children etc. This year we had few new volunteers, but not enough for me to stay away.
Then we celebrated the second birthday of my nephew and since that I have been stacking firewood for the winter. Loading a wheelbarrow to the brim, pushing that wheelbarrow up hill to wood shed and unloading it, and then stacking. All that while horseflies and mosquitos are trying to eat me.

Oh yeah, I sew pants to my sister one evening, she needed something else than jeans or leggins to wear while they were spending time by the lake (sister's bf's relatives has a hut there). I had some pale blue fabrick with pink flowers (thick cotton jersey (?) you could sew a hoodie) and matching pink ribbing. I had to find a pattern, copy pattern pieces to parchment paper, cut the pieces and sew... Haha. All in less than an hour. I just love me when I have those wonderful ideas. But, pants fitted her perfectly and protected her from mosquitos.
And I have one piece of fabric less to store here.

Since all that, I have been weeding veg plot. It's miserable. It is curious that some potatoes are doing fine while others are dying or just sprouted! Some spuds suffering have ant nest right in their roots, but others don't. I have no idea why some are doing fine and some not - it would be logical if most plants would be suffering? I weeded broad beans and beets, I have two more rows of potatoes to weed and then I have to tackle pea rows. There's so much thistle I'd like to cry, but most times I just make not so pretty faces when they prick me.
D cut all lupins from our yard, only one wheenbarrow, full. Most lupins I can see are in someone else's grounds, and I can't kill them without permission. Our neighbour will like me to tackle them too, I'm not sure if I want to. But needs must.

In the autunm I need to build at least one more raised bed, because I need one for brassicas, too. Now I have one for corn (doing fine), one for beans (doing more than fine) one for garlic (seeing scapes already) and one for carrots (and parsnips, I'm testing if my family wants to eat them), and two for strawberries. I could do with one shallow and narrow (like I have for strawberries) for pickling cucumbers, that's the last solution I can come up. If they don't grow in box, I don't have a clue what to do to get them growing.
And because strawberries are doing it so nicely in their boxes, I might need to build another just for strawberries... They are already forming runners, I have to remember make sure I'll get them at some point.
How lucky I have seemingly endless supply of used wood.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Suddenly June

It's suddenly mid June. Oh dear.
What has happened...

I finally got my new specks, I bought two pairs because 'Suma might eat these, too. I'm not sure about frames, they might be too bulky, but I decided it's better that way, they might better chance to survive one more attack of 'Suma? But I can see clearly now.
Much hasn't happen on polytunnel, greenhouse or veg plot. I've been waiting 'til this mid June to plant tender plants (beans, corn, brassicas, pumpkins and zuccinis and cucumbers etc) outside, and until that they occupy polytunnel and prevent planting in there.
I was supposed to do some (most of it) planting today, but farmer decided today is fine day to do some spraying. So it's a no-go at the moment. But I do have plans, everything will be done.

Our another car got through MOT, it needed some serious welding, but it was rather cheap work, 300€. Kids got out of school and are enjoying summer holiday. D left high school and is accepted to nearest college, she needs a new laptop for school, but according to school they can be rented! She has a decent laptop at home, she needs it because she draws a lot (not only computer, mind you, she is excellent artist in paper, too), but it's too good (expensive) for school! If she has to drag that laptop to school every day, it must be something easily replaceable. She also realized that she might have some use for drivers license, which she didn't want last year. So I'll need to look that, too.
Money makes the world go round...

We went to a consert with hb, and in the end it was complete disaster. There was funfair and of course he went with his (younger) cousin. And got his back hurt, so we ended up on ER in the middle of the night ( and didn't see the band) and I was going to work trip the very next day. I know I'm not as young I used to be, it was really difficult to keep sharp after one hour sleep... But I made it and maybe hb understands now why I told him not to go to that sling or whatever it was. At least he didn't go bungee jumping...
And of course hb had that week off, he was supposed to cut wood for the winter. No such luck.
We took a short relaxation trip with my colleague, she is a mother to two teenagers and two toddlers and really can use some time to rest. So, we had dinner at nine o'clock and went to sleep at half past ten. We slept 'til 8 o'clock in the morning, we had a massive breakfast at hotel and took nice slow paced walk around town center. And then we came back home. It was wonderful.

And in the meantime 'Suma ate antoher pair of cheap crock imitations and a plate full of chicken wings. It's been several days and she seems to be ok, so I think no harm done. Wonder what happens when I go for a two day trip on July (working trip, no long summer holidays for me).

We have had some not so pleasant visitors at our yard/forest. We have racoon dogs, and not only they smell dreadfull, they make unpleasant noise (they scream like cats fighting). They are considered as invasive alien species and I could hunt (trap) them, but atm I'm not able to do that. I just can't hunt, not for food, not for fun and apparently not to protect my surroundings. Not yet.

I have tried to use up all rhubarb I have (from my plants and from our neighbours'). I have made (so far)  pie, mead, cordial, cake, jam, pudding. Then I have dehydrated some, and there's quite a lot in the freezer. If I can catch up my tasks in the garden/veg plot/polytunnel etc, I might be able to pick some more.
I have foraged nettles and spruce tips (made seasoning salt) and I have a bunch of oregano drying at kitchen.
I have picked huge bunches of lupins (they are also invasive species) and some lilacs (because my cousin felled some huge lilac bushes and I decided to rescue some flowers).

I have bought two pairs of glasses, a pair of fake crocks and two black tank tops. I bought shirts and jeans for ys and sys and a summer dress for d. I bought new blender but haven't used it yet, old one makes horrible sounds but mixes berries and bananas, and smells of electricity, so it's better to have replacement on hand when needed. I lost my kettle, it doesn't boil water any more, but I haven't found a new one I like yet. I don't want any plastic in it.
Gave our sand toys to my nephew, repaired a zipper for his dad (actually I changed it, old one was plastic, I found a new metallic one from my stash). I'm worming cats and dog, I think I have enough pills for all of them for three days (they need to be given three days in a row).

So after all, it's been a pretty good few weeks.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

And tomatoes

Today, after 8 hours work in front of laptop (ok, I made few phone calls which meant I had to walk 150m away from front gate to get reception to my cell phone), baking pizzas (and eating some slices) and 'Suma walk I was ready to go to polytunnel and veg plot - there was rain only in the morning!
I had my peas and beans soaking, so I had to put them in soil.
About (I lost count a couple of times because 'Suma was helping) 450 peas (peas and magne touts) to the veg plot, 80 beans into the polytunnel (I use egg cartons to germinate beans, I have three more weeks until I can plant them outside). I even planted some beets to an empty spot in garlic frame.
And I planted 12 tomato plants.
Funny that. I haven't bought tomato seeds nor germinated them, and I certainly haven't bought any tomato plants.
Tomatoes apparently can germinate if you ended up loosing one or two mature tomatoes in your polytunnel in autunm. Seeds survive winter (snow and frosts) and germinate on spring. Ok, they are tiny, but I wasn't having any tomato plants, so this is a win.

My second batch of sweet corn is doing fine, first one died just like that. Zucchinis and pickling cucumbers are sprouting, as well as nasturtiums. Even sunflowers have some seedlings, never know if they make it or not after I have planted them outside.

Not so well doing is melons (watermelons, cucamelons and than one that looked like cantaloupe), and pumpkins. I don't have any melon seeds left. I took piece of paper towel and put some watermelon seeds, halloween pumpkins and giant pumpkin seeds too to germinate on that wet paper. Now I only hope that when I'm planting them straight in the big pots in the polytunnel, they enjoy themselves and start to grow like triffids.

So much to do, so little time. As always.

Monday, 27 May 2019

Thunderstorms and beginnings/ Oh bugger, not again

I was trying to find my glasses. Yep, 'Suma got them, one lens was popped out and now there's some scratches in lenses, but they are usable (I bended them back to their shape... somewhat, they now keep sliding down my nose). It's been a year since she ate my other pair.
I had to make an appointment at Specsavers, hopefully I'll get new pairs in few weeks, I need new prescription anyway, I have kept postponing it whole spring.

 Hot weather is now gone, it ended with a bang. We had a massive thunderstorm, some places flooded heavily, but we only got some puddles. Such a boring life here.

Sunshine after a storm, another one coming (all rain and storms have arrived from south)
Mu uncle got engaged and we popped in for a coffee (or tea in my case). It was very exciting - power went off so no guarantee to actually get a cuppa...

But it's been raining ever since. I got my broad beans sowed, as well as calendulas, swedes and chards.  Now I just can't go to the veg plot, my soil is clay so I really should keep off until it stops raining.
I need to get peas and magne touts sowed, if for nothing else, they'll bring nitrogen to soil. And I really need to sow beans, I can't put them outside yet, but in polytunnel or greenhouse they'll do fine. If only I would do it...

At least something is flourishing
But this rain is a good thing, no more warning for forest fires or bush fires, and I have managed to sew! Two pairs of trousers (I needed something to wear at home apart from jeans) and now I'm working on undies (I need find another pattern, these will not do, they're huge and I used smaller size pattern that I usually use).

My sewing is a process. I don't just grab a pattern and fabric, oh no. This specific session has started last autunm, when I was looking ideas for christmas presents. I didn't find a pattern for a wide brimmed sunbonnet, we have a summer picnic every summer (my family) and last summer many of my aunts and cousins were whining because one of my aunts had a nice wide brimmed hat and they didn't. I knew I had a pattern for one somewhere, but no luck. But I did find pattern for undies.

Now I was looking through those patterns again (in need of trousers) and found that bonnet. So, so far I have made those beforementioned trousers, cut most of pieces for a sunbonnet and made a test version for undies. But it did take three hours of browsing through my sewing magazines, two and a half hour of rummaging my fabrics (my colleague has seen my stash room and she thinks I'm utterly mad. So do I)... I have another fabric for trousers, but I'm not sure if I want floral ones.
But now I need to stop making my stuff and shorten jeans for hb (they has been waiting maybe six months?) and patching another pair for him. There's another pair that need patching, too, but I need to wash them first.
While digging into my fabrics I found a pretty floral cotton. Perfect for dresses for little girls! Luckily my cousin has two girls, so I had to find a dress pattern as well.

But it's not all doom and gloom. My potatoes in tyres have been sprouting...


Violet Queen, purple potatoes
I planted spuds in much bags like I have done few years now, but I'm not quite sure about the variety now...

Ms/Mr Toad wasn't happy when I watered that bag. Uuups, sorry.